Italian Cheesecake


1 cup flour

1 / 4 cup salted butter, softened

1 / 2 cup ground walnuts

1 tablespoon brown sugar

3 1 /2 tablespoons water


1 1/ 2 lbs whole milk ricotta

1/ 2 teaspoon vanilla

1/ 2 teaspoon baking powder

4 eggs

3/ 4 cup sugar

1 / 2 of a lemon – grated lemon peel

  1. Oven 350 degrees
  2. Put flour into a medium bowl.  Add softened butter and using a pastry cutter,
  3. Cut the butter into the flour until it becomes crumbly.  Add the ground walnuts and brown sugar, mix together.  Add the water and form into a ball – as best as you can.  Chill in refrigerator for 1/ 2 hour.
  4. Remove dough and start to flatten like a pizza dough.  In a glass pie dish – try to press dough to cover the bottom of the dish and up the sides as far as you can – more than half way up the sides is fine.
  5. In the meantime – In a mixing bowl – add the ricotta, vanilla, baking powder, eggs, sugar.  Scrape the half of a lemon peel into the bowl as best as you can.  Mix with electric beater until well blended and smooth. 
  6. Pour into crust and place in the center rake of the oven.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  The top of the cheesecake should be golden and the center not too jiggly.  Be careful not to overbake.
  7. ENJOY – There are two cheesecakes – The Italian cheesecake and the regular cream cheese cheesecake that wishes it was Italian cheesecake!

Recipe DoubledBecause two Italian cheesecakes are better than one


2 cup flour

1 / 2 cup salted butter, softened

1 cup ground walnuts

2 tablespoons brown sugar

7 tablespoons water


3 lbs whole milk ricotta

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking powder

8 eggs

1 1/ 2 cups sugar

1 lemon – grated lemon peel

I recently discovered that one of my husband Tom’s favorite desserts, my version of Italian cheesecake, was MIA from Somebody’s Mom! I was stunned as I could have sworn I had shared it with you as I’ve made it forever.  It’s long been a family favorite…especially with the uncles from both sides of the family and, now that they’re gone, I haven’t made it as often. (My grandkids like the traditional cheesecake I make and request it often.)  Now I’m gonna share it with you as well as the story that led me to discover my missing recipe.  

Due to COVID restrictions and our overlapping work schedules, Tom and I struggled to find a time and a safe way to celebrate his birthday.  So, we finally decided to shuffle off to Buffalo to the home of our eldest daughter and her family which would keep us in NY and comfortably settled in her spacious home for a few days.  We arrived around dinner time on the day of my husband’s birthday.  My son-in-law, Jeff, and my daughter, Marisa, made a wonderful surf and turf dinner followed by the piece de resistance — Italian cheesecake!  It was huge and light and fluffy, but clearly not my recipe.  I was curious as to where she found her recipe, and she complained that she looked on my website first but couldn’t find it there. She also pointed out that every Italian cheesecake recipe she found on the Internet had cream cheese as an ingredient.  What followed was one of those mother vs. daughter discussions about traditional Italian cheesecakes which are not made with cream cheese.  No worries….we’re still speaking LOL!

After we got home from Buffalo, I pulled out my old recipe and lo and behold, only ricotta cheese appeared on the list of ingredients…no mention of cream cheese anywhere.  Shortly after our return, I made my original Italian cheesecake for my other daughter, Mia, and her fiancée James.  They loved it….or so they said.  I choose to believe them!  

Please note that I chose to use only 1/2 of a lemon peel because I didn’t want it to be too citrusy.  James and Mia thought the lemon flavor was just right and so did I. My husband commented that it could have used a bit more lemon flavor.  Go figure!  Simply add more or less lemon peel as desired. Whether ricotta or cream cheese dominates your Italian cheesecake, it will be equally delicious when made with love by you or for you.  Enjoy!